Archive for March, 2015

Not-So-Confusing Concepts

Due to my engineer-like traits of wanting to follow specifications, I do well at grammar. It’s relatively easy – there are rules, and you follow them. The rules are many, and sometimes may be vague or conflicting, but they are there. All one has to do is remember them and use them.

And likewise for the meanings of words. Words have specific meanings. When people are sloppy with their word choices and say things they didn’t mean, it annoys me. “You know what I meant” is a common excuse, but the reason we have a language is so that you can say the words that match what you mean and then everyone is clear on what you meant. If you can’t be bothered to say what you mean, why should I be the one to put forth effort in order to understand what you mean? Maybe that’s a valid excuse for a 3-year-old who is still learning words, but not for an adult who has completed his schooling.

There, now the groundwork for this post is out of the way, and I can get to the list of sayings that I’ve noticed people are having a hard time with. These are concepts more than spelling and grammar. Items in the spelling and grammar categories are things like lie/lay and effect/affect. Those are not hard either, people, but that’s a different topic.

  • Wrong vs. Lying
    “Are you saying I’m lying?” is a common retort one might hear when one corrects another. But most of the time, one is not accusing the other of fraud. In order for someone to be lying, he must know the truth but present something other than the truth. Presenting something that he believes to be the truth but is not the truth is not lying, simply an error.

    I’ve noticed this more in politics than other areas of life – Senator So-and-so lied to us about such-and-such. Maybe he didn’t lie – maybe he was just wrong.

  • Original vs. Unique
    “That’s not original” is an accusation that is made against something that one has seen before. But original doesn’t mean no one else has made a similar item – that’s what unique means. Original means that one thought it up by oneself. Multiple people can think of the same thing independently and they would all be original but none would be unique.
  • Flush Out vs. Flesh Out
    I never thought much about this one, because it seemed obvious enough to me. But I’ve been noticing it more and more. And when I was in England recently, I noticed they always got it right.

    Flush out is when you are trying to find something – think about the hunting dog who goes into the reeds to flush out the fowl.
    Flesh out is when you are trying to fill in gaps – like adding flesh to a skeleton to get a complete body. Apply this to things like a writing outline – the outline is the skeleton and you flesh out the details of the story.

  • Forward Slash vs. Back Slash
    Can you not see which way the slash is leaning? If the slash is leaning to the right, it’s a forward slash. Because that’s the direction the text is going. And if the top of the slash is left of the bottom, it’s a back slash. The only valid excuse I can think of for getting this one wrong is if your native language is written right-to-left.

    If you’re not sure, just say “slash” and people will type the right one.

  • Try To vs. Try And
    Trying to do something implies effort that may or may not be successful.
    Trying and doing something implies effort and then success.

    Why bother trying something and then doing something? Why not just do it? Yoda up – don’t try, just do.

    Try to verb means one action – an attempt at verb.
    Try and verb means two actions – an attempt first and then the verb.

    The only time this is acceptable is if you really intend on a practice round of whatever it is you’re doing.

Alright, I’m stepping off my soapbox now.

To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,

Proverbs 1:2

Jens Bonde

I got to thinking: what if you combined James Bond with Disney’s Frozen?

The answer: Double-O Sven

image of Sven the reindeer from Disney's Frozen movie

How much of a movie powerhouse would that be?

That’s right – Arendelle’s intelligence ministry’s best agent is an overgrown donkey.

If the James Bond movies were remade using Frozen characters, this is what it might look like:

Guitar Display

We went to the science museum in Toledo recently. The lower level of the museum has a section set aside for temporary exhibits. Temporary can be days or weeks or months. This particular exhibit seemed to be one of the longer ones at 3 months, since it was rather extensive.

It was a museum of guitars.

They had a giant guitar, some things to play with and try, but it was mostly guitar displays.

image of museum display of various guitars

Early guitars, classical guitars, electric guitars, modern guitars.

I don’t know that there were many guitars of exceptional importance or value, but they had a wide range, all with placards indicating their places in history.

They did, however, have one rare guitar. It’s not the best photo, but it will give you the idea. I think they managed to get one of the original models for this display, so it is somewhat rare as there aren’t that many surviving from the early years.

image of museum display of an air guitar

That was my favorite guitar display of the day.

And as they were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air,

Acts 22:23

Cat Food

I was shopping for some various items, and I saw a very specific category. I didn’t know there was much of a market, but apparently people have a bunch of these as pets.

image of a sign about canned cat food

I’d like to see what a canned cat looks like. My guess is, if the cat is canned, it’s not going to be eating much.

And here’s the other aisle:

image of a sign about dry cat food

For those of you who aren’t Mario Kart double-dash fans, here’s what a dry cat looks like:

image of a dry cat

He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens which cry.

Psalm 147:9

Audio from DVDs

We have a DVD with some music on it. I wanted to be able to play the music in our vehicles and various other places that don’t play DVDs – a valid case of the fair-use doctrine, if you ask me.

I figured it should be straightforward – the laptop can play DVDs, and the laptop can burn CDs, therefore the laptop should be able to take the audio part of the DVD and save it off.

But it’s not that easy.

The DVD player won’t save audio.

And when I tried just using either Sound Recorder or Audacity to record the audio as I played the DVD, but it came out warbly. Like it was underwater or something.

So I figured someone out there has written a utility that would grab the audio from a DVD and save it as a standard audio file.

Truth in Update Notices

I try not to upgrade my software.

For reference, here is an example of what you might see sometimes when you start a program:

image of a typical software update notice, an update is available, apply this update as soon as possible

If I were in charge of the wording on the upgrade notices, here is what it would look like:

image of what a software update notice should look like, select the default button because I'm not paying attention

and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Ezra 4:5

Curiosity Killed the Bank

We were curious, could a bank find more ways to annoy people?

At [unnamed bank], we thought we could certainly try. So when customers came in to pay their mortgages, we asked them. “Would you like to sign up for more of our products and services?”

And when they declined, we were curious – why were they not signing up?

We called them to see if maybe they didn’t understand what they were missing. And then we were even more curious – doesn’t anyone answer the phone anymore?

After leaving a few voicemails, we were curious – where have the customers gone?

That was my attempt at parodying [unnamed bank]’s recent marketing plan. But it was inspired by actual events – just paying my mortgage.

You see, I have my mortgage through them but I don’t have anything else – no checking or savings account with them. They have a branch a mile or so from my workplace, so, to save a stamp, I would stop by on my commute home and pay the monthly mortgage bill in person.

The teller offered me a sum of money if I would open a checking account with them. Since I was planning on getting a new mortgage in the near future, I declined. No sense changing over checks, direct deposit info, etc. for a few months only to have the new mortgage with someone else.

But the next time, she gave me a pamphlet and business card for the banker lady who could setup the account. Rather than argue, I said “Sure, I’ll look at it” and went on with my life.

A week later, my phone rang. It was not a number I recognized, so I let it go to voicemail. It was the banker lady, who left her phone number and asked me to call her back. “No way,” I thought to myself. “I’m not voluntarily subjecting myself to a sales pitch.”

Two days later, the phone rang again. This time, I recognized her number, so I let it go to voicemail. Her message said she had to discuss my mortgage with me. Nice try, but that’s a bit of a stretch.

A week later, I got my normal mortgage statement in the mail.

I wrote a check and put a stamp on the return envelope. I am not going back to that branch ever again.

It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.

Judges 16:16